Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito hit the campaign trail with congressional hopeful State Senator Adriano Espaillat this morning, putting her weight behind the man who hopes to dethrone the dean of New York’s Congressional delegation.
Mr. Espaillat yesterday launched his campaign to unseat Congressman Charles Rangel, who is running for his 23rd term representing his uptown district. Ms. Mark-Viverito endorsed Mr. Rangel in a contest between the two back in 2012, when he won narrowly, but this time has sided with Mr. Espaillat, suggesting that he could earn significant backing from the city’s new class of elected officials.
Joining Mr. Espaillat at a senior center in her East Harlem, Ms. Mark-Viverito championed Mr. Espaillat as the best candidate to represent New York’s 13th Congressional District, which spans from Harlem into the Bronx. Often conversing in the pair’s native Spanish, the speaker led Mr. Espaillat around the Covelo Senior Center, introducing him to the people gathered as though they were old friends.
While neither Ms. Mark-Viverito nor Mr. Espaillat would elaborate on what motivated Ms. Viverito’s change in support, she repeatedly mentioned his avowed promise to tackle inequality and champion affordable housing in the district–issues the pair said united the district’s diverse racial and ethnic communities.
“I look forward to uniting the district, of really sending a united message, of really working on issues that matter to all of us,” Ms. Viverito said. “Whether it’s income issues, when you’re talking about housing issues, when you’re talking about services for seniors, all of that cuts across race and ethnicity, and this is about a united district.”
Mr. Espaillat, whose contest two years ago was often described as a political battle between black and Latino constituents, again went out of his way to present a message of unity.
“The problems that affect East Harlem, like let’s say the services for seniors right here … They don’t have a color, they don’t have a race, they don’t have an ethnicity, they don’t have a language, a gender, a religion,” he said.